Marco Silva says he couldn’t have picked a better test with which to assess Fulham’s Championship credentials than taking on Middlesbrough in the first match of the season.

The Portuguese head coach is a huge admirer of Boro boss Neil Warnock, whom he beat twice when in charge of Everton, and knows that the Whites will need to be at their best to prevail in their first league fixture. Silva told FFCTV he wouldn’t be underestimating Sunday’s opponents:

“A very good team, a really experienced coach who knows this competition well and it will be a tough test against a very strong side. We respect Middlesbrough, the quality they have, they want to fight for the top positions in the table as well. We are ready to compete, to put on the pitch the things we have been working on so far. We will have the commitment, the attitude, the desire and the attitude to win a football match.

“If you can choose to start at home or away, we would choose to start at home with our stadium full because it will be one of the keys for us to be stronger in the season. I think it is the best way to start at home against a strong side and a good test for us.

Silva said Fulham are likely to be without some key personnel, including skipper Tom Cairney and Terence Kongolo for the opening weeks of the season, but believes his squad has demonstrated that they are strong enough to still deliver consistent performances.

“We had some issues during the pre season and some players didn’t participate enough. I’m a hundred per cent sure that in three or four weeks we will be different and stronger as a team because we’ll have all the squad ready and the solutions for me will be different. The work the players have done shows that I can trust in all for them – because they have the quality, they are really committed to our challenge – and we will be ready.”

The Fulham boss shared his excitement with the big kick off just around the corner.

It’s always exciting moments at the start. You feel that the competition has [stepped up] in the training sessions. We will start our long journey next Sunday. All of us have the desire to start in the right way – our opponent wans the same. Let’s see what team will be stronger when we start the game. Of course, we want it to be ourselves and we will do our best to achieve the three points.